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ERIC Number: EJ866714
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1066-2847
Exposing Hidden Homophobia
Teaching Tolerance, n35 p8-9 Spr 2009
Sarah Arnold was in a bind. On the surface, the students in her 11th-grade English courses seemed to have their act together. Like so many people their age, Arnold's students saw open homophobia as uncool. On the other hand, when Arnold listened to her students talking before the bell, she often heard an anti-gay undertone that disturbed her. Students might utter the phrase "that's so gay," or crack jokes about anything that defied gender stereotypes. Arnold had to wonder why so few gay people in Elkhorn, Wisconsin were out of the closet. Arnold took on the problem directly in "Exposing Hidden Homophobia," a 37-day unit in which her students examined electronic media, short fiction and finally a novel of their choice to find the covert and overt ways human culture sends demoralizing messages to gay people. Her students resisted at first. Many didn't want to be seen carrying gay-themed books around school, fearful of how they'd be perceived by others. Some parents also balked: many people in Elkhorn attend churches that interpret the Bible as condemning homosexuality. In addition, administrators fretted about devoting more than a month of instruction to a single theme. Still, Arnold had done her homework. When parents or administrators questioned the plan, she was able to show how it supported higher-order thinking skills. She had each student assemble and present, in a professional manner, a portfolio on their research. Ultimately, the unit met almost every one of Wisconsin's state standards for writing. Teachers and administrators who have seen Arnold's work have been inspired to incorporate it into their own curriculum.
Southern Poverty Law Center. 400 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36104. Tel: 334-956-8200; Fax: 334-956-8484; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Wisconsin